The Third in a Series of Sermons on the Gospel of John
In John’s purpose statement (chapter 20:30-31) he tells us why he wrote his gospel. “These [things] are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life ain his name.” If Jesus’ preaching and miracles prove that he is the Christ and the Son of God, why is it that people (including his own people, the Jews) reject him? John will tell us why people do not believe the gospel using the familiar metaphor of darkness and light. The reason why people reject the creator and redeemer of the world is because our deeds are evil. We hate it when the light (the truth that is in Jesus Christ and as expressed in the law and gospel) exposes us for what we are–sinners in need of a Savior.
As we continue our series on the Gospel of John, we are making our way through the prologue (the first 18 verses) of this gospel. As we saw last time, John’s prologue is densely-packed with important theological truths, all designed introduce us to the central figure of John’s Gospel–Jesus Christ, the eternal word of God (logos) made flesh. Virtually every point made by John in this prologue will reappear later on in the body of the gospel. So, if we are familiar with John’s prologue, we will better understand the events which unfold in John’s Gospel, which opens in verse 19 of chapter one when our Lord begins his public ministry. By knowing who Jesus is as he is revealed prologue to John, we already know that Jesus is God in human flesh, that one through whom God reveals himself to his people.
In the opening words of John’s prologue we learn that Jesus is the word (logos), and that the word was God, yet distinct from God. We also learn that the word created all things. As John tells us: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” From this important declaration come the Christian doctrines of the deity of Jesus Christ, the distinction between the Father and the Son (underlying the doctrine of the Trinity), and the fact that is was through Jesus that God created all things. In fact, you cannot be a Christian without believing these things. More to the point, you cannot truly understand John’s gospel without knowing these things before you read it.
As we read in verses 4-5 regarding the logos (Jesus), “in him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Throughout John’s Gospel the terms “life” and “light” will be used in connection with our salvation from sin, but in the opening words to the prologue of John’s Gospel we see these terms used specifically in connection with creation. Echoing the creation account in Genesis 1:1-2:3, John tells us that Jesus is the source of all things, including life, having the source of life in himself (cf. John 5:26). In fact, it was through Jesus Christ that God created all things. Furthermore, Jesus is the light, which, as we saw, may be a reference to the fact that each one of us are created in God’s image, or to the fact that Jesus is the one who illumines our minds so that we know and understand truth. John may even be referring to both.
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